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Gut research yields new anti-cancer approach

Researchers believe they have discovered by chance a new way to fight colorectal cancer, and potentially cancers of the esophagus, liver and skin. Early work shows that a group of compounds called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma) inhibitors may have an unexpected cancer-fighting effect, according to research published today in the journal International Cancer Research. Furthermore, the new studies suggest that PPARgamma inhibitors act through some of the same mechanisms as the blockbuster chemotherapy Taxol, but with key differences.

While studying whether compounds known to affect PPARgamma could play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases, a team at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that medium-to-high doses of PPARgamma inhibitor killed colorectal cancer cell lines. Despite the compound's class name, the anti-cancer effect has nothing to do with the ability of the compounds to inhibit PPARgamma function. Researchers believe that PPARgamma inhibitors instead attack the "skeletons" of cancer cells that enable them to reproduce, grow and spread. Better solutions are needed because, according to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer remains the no. 2 cause of cancer death for men, and the no. 3 cause of cancer death for women.

"This is the first observation of a small molecule dramatically reducing levels of the proteins called tubulins, the building blocks of cancer cell skeletons," said Katherine L. Schaefer, Ph.D., a research assistant professor within the Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division, at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and first author of the paper. "Because cells that line the colon are similar to those in the liver, esophagus and skin, we see potential for a new way to treat those cancers as well."

In the study that led to the discovery of the anti-cancer effect, researchers were looking for new ways to reduce inflammation seen in Crohn'
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Source:University of Rochester Medical Center


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